Most moms agree there are two times each year when the calendar blows up and sends their families into a whirlwind of activity – fall and spring.
In the fall, we start a new school year and struggle to keep up with the responsibilities that come with a new routine. In the spring, end-of-school-year activities take over our schedule, not to mention sports leagues and music programs that have us running from one side of town to the other, every night of the week.
We all know overloaded schedules lead to stress, but how often do we do something about it? As powerless as we feel to change our calendars, healthy margin is crucial — both for our sanity and our health.
The truth is…a few empty spots on the calendar won’t kill us. In fact, they’ll do just the opposite. Empty spots on the calendar mean more time to relax and recharge, to have fun with our family, to feel like a human being again.
If you sense it’s time to put margin back in your life, but you’re not sure where to begin, here are six simple steps to get you started.
1. On a piece of paper, list all the commitments on your calendar in the typical week. This can include your job, housework, kids’ activities, errands, church activities, etc. Put it all out there, even the little things that seem minor. If you spend time on it, it should be in your list.
2. Cross out all the commitments that are absolutely necessary. These are things that have no wiggle room to be removed or adjusted in any way. Be careful here, though. You may be convinced that your Mothers for Purple Leotards Committee is 100% crucial, but we’re talking about things that have life-and-death consequences — like feeding your family, or going to work so you can pay for the heating bill next month.
3. For the remaining items on your list, ask yourself these questions:
- If I let go of this commitment, what will I lose?
- If I let go of this commitment, what will I gain?
- Is there anyone else poised to take this commitment from me?
- Is there a creative solution to keep this commitment, but do it in less time?
If it helps, write your answers down. Seeing them on paper can be incredibly eye-opening! You might even want to do a classic “Plus and Minus” chart, where you list all the positives of the activity versus the negatives.
4. Pray about your answers to the previous questions. You may already have a gut sense of what you can adjust, but taking it to the Lord will ensure your plans align with HIS plans. As you gain clarity, circle the one or two commitments you’re ready to remove or adjust.
5. Take the first step to make the appropriate adjustments. It might mean contacting a fellow band mom to see if she can drive your son home from practice next week. It might mean throwing away the soccer sign-up form for your 3-year-old. Whatever the first step is, do it now before you chicken out.
6. Add a restorative activity to take its place. Now that you’ve made wiggle room in your schedule, be intentional to add something that will re-energize and recharge you. Maybe it’s daily quiet time with God, or taking a walk with your family after dinner, or playing a game of Candy Land with your kids, or going on a date with your spouse. Whatever it is, don’t let another non-value-added activity take its place. Keep margin in your life so you can rest in God’s grace, live a healthy life, and enjoy the people you love most.
It won’t always be easy, but it’ll be worth it!